Winter Haven, Florida -- A panicked father was able to safely deliver his baby into the world Friday because of one dispatcher's guidance and encouragement over the phone.
Ashley Pridgen, 28, has been with the Polk County Sheriff's Department for a little over two years.
She answered the phone in dispatch early Friday morning to the sound of a nervous couple ready to deliver their baby by themselves in their Winter Haven apartment.
"The baby is coming!" the man cries out to Pridgen.
After gently asking if the mother in labor is doing alright, Pridgen immediately starts giving the man instructions.
"Okay, I want you to look at her very closely to see how close the baby is to being born."
"It's coming now!...I can see the head!," he tells Pridgen.
Very calmly, Ashley goes through a list of important steps for him to take -- with caution -- so he can successfully and safely deliver the baby.
She tells the man to gently apply pressure with his hands to keep the baby's head from tearing the mother; she instructs him to support the baby's head and shoulder's as the birth progresses, and reminds him to be careful not to drop the baby, because it will be slippery.
Pridgen even remembers to mix in words of encouragement as she guides them through labor.
"Tell her that she is doing a really good job, and you're doing good too," she says in a comforting tone.
Pridgen's safe instructions and words of encouragement continue for nearly ten minutes until the baby is born.
A moment of joy for the couple; the baby cries.
Pridgen doesn't miss a beat as she tells the man to gently dry the baby, wrap the baby and then carefully hand it to the mother.
She continues with instructions for the new parents all the way until paramedics arrive.
Friday afternoon, Polk County Sheriff's officials sent proud reports commending Ashley Pridgen for a job well done. With a successful delivery, officials say the new family is doing well.
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